Fanatically Yours…

I don’t usually brandish my religious inclinations for a number of reasons. One of them is that people tend to bracket me into categories based on what religion I profess to. In another word, they stereotype me. And that’s possibly not the last of it. They’ll next try to play the “Whose Religion is More Superior Game” and I, for one, do not intend to start world wars. Not even if the second coming of Christ is around the corner.
I say this because I don’t consider myself a religious fanatic. I came to know my religion in my early 20s when I stepped into varsity. I enjoyed the clarity of thought it afforded me but I also saw how religious fervour separated people. I mean, it’s not meant to do so obviously but it does. Groups of people congregate because they know who they want to be. I think that’s fine but I do not like it when people start harassing me about religion.
It happens in campus easily. Harassment. What I call harassment some people might call it “helping others”. I am not so polite. I have been harassed because why can’t these people let me be? They come knocking on your doors. They tell you that you should save yourself before the world comes crashing down and then where would I be? Dead, I’d retort but they never let me say anything.
For naive freshies, it’s so easy to fall for the hook. I was one. I was sick (I had chicken pox the week before) and homesick. She came to me one day as I was waiting outside the library for a friend. She talked to me and found out I was abstaining from certain ‘toxic’ foods due to my chicken pox. Immediately she said that she was staying off campus and would I like to have dinner with her the following week? She’d come and pick me up. I was so thankful for the attention that I said yes without even thinking.
She was kind. Nice and obliging. Took me out for a dinner of chicken broth. And at the end of it, we adjourned to her house. It was a student house and a bunch of people were sitting around, playing guitars and talking. I still didn’t get it until they dimmed the lights to watch a religious video. And when that ended, they sat in a circle and sang religious songs. I was feeling uncomfortable but I could not leave.
At other times, they’ll come in pairs to supermarkets and bookstores, catching one unaware. Many times they’ll invite me for a talk/seminar to which I’ll say no ever so politely.
It’s not only these people which gets my ire. Buddhist groups can be equally bothersome too. They’ll give you odd looks if you don’t live the lives they lead. They’ll wonder why you refuse to join their Dhamma talks when “it’s all for your own good”. But at least they don’t harass me when I’m shopping.
Religion is personal. What I believe is up to me. I don’t impose my religion beliefs on others and I wonder why people can’t understand this.
I am a Buddhist.
I don’t wear beads on my wrists nor do I wear a chain with Buddha’s face on it (I used to, by the way). I don’t advertise my religion because it is between me and my religion. I strive to keep to my Five Precepts and live by walking the Middle Path. I enjoy listening to suttas and chanting but not all the time. I try to weed out as much greed, hatred and jealousy from my everyday life, by being kinder, more gentle and more compassionate. But that doesn’t make me a sucker either and I do not simply donate to charity just because some imposter in orange comes around selling talismans.
Why can’t people stop having superiority complexes about other people’s religion?

4 thoughts on “Fanatically Yours…”

  1. Oh man, you are so right? Now, these people are starting to get more and more hightech. Nowadays, they have geocities websites and ask for your email. Not only do I get Viagra offers now, I also get offers for life-changing talks and seminars from this guy who came aknocking on the gate one fine day and told me that he wanted to save me!

  2. it is really about awareness and being human, it is all within and around us, that simple really. we dont hv to reach for the stars, i guess.
    thx for the blog, i considered u wrote that on my behalf too 4 i experianced exactly what u hv written.

  3. hi keat
    yeah, someone has to say it right? everyone’s so zealous these days. and to top it all, Chronicles of Narnia is showing… more fodder!

  4. Religious fanatics suck. and the only thing that sucks more than religious fanatics are those who try to turn YOU into a religious fanatic….
    Hmph.
    My favorite response when people ask me whether I believe in (their) god is this: “I believe there is a god. I’m just waiting for a sign…”

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